YOLANDA 5 YEARS ON: SURVIVORS IN LONDON TO FIGHT FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE

Press release - November 6, 2018
Tacloban, 6 November 2018 — Filipino survivors of extreme weather events are currently in London to give personal testimonies at a landmark inquiry to determine whether the world’s largest carbon producers are violating the human rights of communities worst affected by climate change. [1]

Among those to speak will be 27-year-old research nurse Marielle Bacason. Marielle’s family home was destroyed when Haiyan devastated Tacloban City on November 8, 2013. The harrowing experience changed their lives forever.

“You could not distinguish the roads, and dead bodies of people and animals everywhere. We feared for our safety every day, especially during the night. We just wanted to leave Tacloban...I was traumatized,” said Marielle. “ All I ask of these big companies is to allow our children, grandchildren, and the future generations to be able to enjoy an unspoiled planet. I just ask that they consider the long-term effects of their actions.”

Five years after super-typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) ripped through the Philippines, millions of lives are still being affected. The people of Leyte and Samar are still struggling, many of them believing the official death toll of 6,343 is thousands short of the actual number who lost their lives to the strongest storm to ever make landfall in recorded history. [2]  But the Waray – the people of Eastern Samar, ground zero for the storm – are determined to stand up , and make their voice heard with a very clear message:

“No one should ever have to go through what we went through.”

The investigation by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines is the first of its kind to be launched by an independent constitutional office. It is considering whether 47 coal, oil, gas and cement companies, including ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and BP, endanger lives and livelihoods by knowingly contributing to the devastating impacts of climate change through carbon pollution from their products and business activities. The investigation was triggered in 2015 by a legal petition filed before the Commission by representatives of communities and organizations across the Philippines. [3]

With the Commission holding hearing sessions in  London – one of the financial hubs for the fossil fuel industry – the companies at the heart of this investigation have no excuse not to participate in the dialogue. These will take place at the London School of Economics on November 6-8, 2018.

Recent hearings in Manila and New York have included testimonies from world-renowned climate and human rights experts, and the accounts of communities on the climate frontlines in the Philippines.[4] All of the companies named in the petition have been invited to participate in the hearings but have so far refused to take part.

“The probabilities of many potentially damaging extreme weather events, including heatwaves and short-duration extreme precipitation events, increase predictably with rising global temperatures”, said Myles Allen, Coordinating lead author of the recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC), who will be giving evidence at the London hearings. “Hence this hearing provides a basis for relating harm associated with extreme weather events with attributable changes in global temperature.” [5]

The inquiry is part of a growing number of investigations across the world, where people are applying pressure on governments and fossil fuel companies, to demand more ambitious climate action. [6]

“This landmark investigation is not just for Filipinos but for vulnerable communities everywhere”, said Desiree Llanos Dee, Campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “We are seeing a growing global movement of people who are not just asking questions of accountability, but who are ready to stand up to big polluters largely responsible for the climate crisis.”

In Leyte, survivors will be marking the fifth anniversary through live storytelling sessions called “Mga Larog (What Remains): Stories a Super Typhoon Made” in Pugon, Tacloban City. Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Yeb Saño will also be holding a live public online video discussion with his brother, visual-artist and activist AG Saño. At the height of Haiyan’s onslaught, AG was unreachable in Tacloban as Yeb was preparing to speak at the UN in Warsaw, where he made an impassioned plea for survival.  Today, their roles are changed, with Yeb in Tacloban while AG is walking 1,500 miles on a climate pilgrimage from the Vatican to the Katowice to lift up a cry for climate justice. [7]

Following the London hearing, there will be one final public inquiry in the Philippines on December 11-12, 2018. It is expected that the Commission will wrap up its investigation by the end of the year and issue its findings in early 2019.


Ends



Notes:

[1] Notice of Inquiry Hearing:

http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/PageFiles/735291/Notice%20of%20Inquiry%20Hearing%20-%20London.JPG

http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/releases/Climate-Change--Human-Rights-Inquiry-Hearing-in-London/

[2] Local people have reported that Haiyan claimed more than 10,000 lives. The official total is 6,343 fatalities with 1,058 missing. Final Report on Effects of Typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) (PDF) (Report). The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. December 11, 2015. Archived from the original on May 6, 2016, available at: http://ndrrmc.gov.ph/attachments/article/1329/FINAL_REPORT_re_Effects_of_Typhoon_YOLANDA_%28HAIYAN%29_06-09NOV2013.pdf

[3] National Inquiry documentation, http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/releases/Worlds-largest-carbon-producers-ordered-to-respond-to-allegations-of-human-rights--abuses-from-climate-change/The-Climate-Change-and-Human-Rights-Petition/

[4] For background from past hearings, please see the following blogs: August public hearing in Manila: http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/News/greenpeace-philippine-blog/four-reasons-why-communities-are-beating-corp/blog/61830/; September inquiry hearing in New York: http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/News/greenpeace-philippine-blog/4-findings-from-new-york-hearings-that-give-r/blog/61947/

[5] Quote taken from Professor Myles Allen’s official written statement to the CHR Philippines inquiry

[6] Other cases include:

- The recent historic Urgenda victory in the Netherlands, in which an association successfully held their government to account for failing to take adequate action on climate change. https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/18933/think-we-cant-win-on-climate-change-this-victory-by-dutch-citizens-will-change-your-mind/;

- Actions brought by Greenpeace Germany and three farming families to force the German Federal Government to meet its national 2020 climate targets: https://www.greenpeace.de/themen/klimawandel/regierung-zur-rechenschaft (in German);  

- KlimaSeniorinnen, an association representing more than 1,000 senior women who are suing over inadequate climate policies and mitigation measures; Nature and Youth and Greenpeace Nordic concerning violations of the Norwegian constitution for opening up a vast new area for oil and gas drilling in the Norwegian Arctic; and families in the EU, Kenya and Fiji who are challenging the EU’s climate policies.

[7]  More information on the Climate Pilgrimage: http://climatepilgrimage.com/


Contacts:

JP Agcaoili, Communications Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, , +639498891334 (In Tacloban)

Desiree Llanos Dee, Climate Justice Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia,   +639985959733 (In London)

Graham Thompson, Press Officer, Greenpeace UK, , +44 (0)7801 212 960 (In London)


Kristin Casper, Litigation Counsel, Greenpeace International, , +44 (0)7506 157 227 (In London)

Greenpeace International Press Desk, , phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)

Photos and videos: Grace Duran-Cabus, Photo Desk, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, +639498891335


Images: https://media.greenpeace.org/shoot/27MDHUHK0XZ

 

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